Monday, January 14, 2013

That's Why They Play the Game

I hope that you had the opportunity to enjoy some of the amazing weather over the weekend. It seems as if over the past few years we have gotten a little break from the cold and snow. I used the time to get an outside run in, stack more firewood in the garage, take down all of the outdoor Christmas decorations, and even play a little driveway basketball. If the forecast rings true next week, I will be blogging about how cold it is again!

Sports Teach Character: Last week I had an opportunity to meet with our hockey team in their locker room at Shove Park. You might say, "who cares?". Our hockey program is very young this year, and as a consequence they have lost more games than they are used to. However, the losses have come from lack of experience; not a lack of heart or drive.

The learning opportunity that existed was too good to pass up. In the big picture, very few students get an opportunity to experience success and failure through sports and fine arts. Unfortunately, those opportunities come for most of them when they are adults, and their supports are not around which makes the learning curve much steeper.

As the hockey program has been historically successful, a few losses brings out the doubters, the boo birds, and the pessimists. We spoke about what it means to dig through that and find inner strength, a strength that makes you block outside voices and allows one to elevate themselves to the next level. We agreed as a group that I am proud of them, and they are proud of themselves. They are going to work together to overcome their inexperience and  finish the year strong.

They are 2-0 since that meeting and even if they are not able to find success in the win/loss column the rest of the season, the life lesson that sports is supposed to teach will shine through for these few athletes lucky enough to be a part of a great program. This is reason number one billion why athletics, fine arts, and extracurricular activities are important for students.

Academic Update: On the academic front, we made some great strides with our K-12 mathematics program. We have had someone taking a look at our curriculum maps, sequencing, and overall programming as we implement the new common core learning standards. We are also looking at a way to help our elementary and middle school teachers get a better understanding on the best ways to teach some of the new material.

I am math certified 7-12, and there have been three times this year when I walked through a classroom and had not seen the topic being taught before. For many of our K-8 teachers this means that some of the topics have not been seen by them since they were high school students themselves. I am thoroughly convinced that this one two punch of math help for our staff will propel us over the top.

The next step will be to focus on some new curriculum for math in grades 3-8 and then there will be no looking back.  I have not been as excited about an educational initiative since we added support a few years ago for our struggling learners. Stay tuned!

Two Year vs. Four Year Colleges: One last thing that I have my eye on is the battle between two year and four year colleges for the tuition dollars of our children ( It used to be, hands down, that the four year degree helped someone to earn more than someone with a two year degree. In many fields that tide has changed, and the two year degree actually helps someone to earn as much as someone attaining a four year degree.

Why does this matter?  I think that this might help ease some of the "fiscal cliff" resistant tuition increases that exist, and it also gives a two year college like our very own Onondaga Community College an awesome opportunity to excite students who might not have been considering college. Keep an eye on this in the coming months.

To say my plate is full this week is an understatement. I will be at many different events and meetings, and it is my hope that we have a chance to cross paths.  Have a wonderful week!